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Arizona Gymnastics 2006 Season-In-Review
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 07/12/2006
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Arizona Gymnastics 2006 Season-In-Review

 

A Quick Glance Back: Arizona entered 2006 with more questions than answers. After all, the program had to replace six seniors from the year before, including the school’s all-time leading scorer, Monica Bisordi. But what the Wildcats lacked in experience, they made up for in talent.

 

The Wildcats only marched out three upperclassmen, including senior team captain Erin Muirhead, along with juniors Aubrey Taylor and Jamie Holton. Sophomores Karin Wurm and Danielle Hicks performed beyond their years, becoming two of the most consistent scorers on the team. The club also got significant contributions from newcomers, most notably Alexis Greene, Briana Bergeson and Bree Workman.

 

Once it was all said and done, the Wildcats found themselves in familiar territory: amongst the nation's Top 20 teams throughout the year and in the postseason for the 20th-consecutive year.

 

The Rankings: Arizona finished the year ranked No. 13 in the nation, narrowly missing out on qualifying for the NCAA Championships by 0.325 points. The Wildcats began the year ranked No. 17 in the preseason coaches’ poll, and were ranked as high as No. 10 for the week of Jan. 30. Arizona has been ranked in 72 of the last 73 polls, including 25 straight. The club was ranked during all 14 polls during the 2006 season.

 

Arizona Head Coach: Bill Ryden completed his eighth season at the helm of the Arizona gymnastics program, pushing his school and career record to 108-118-3. Ryden made his head coaching debut at Arizona in 1998 and made his first appearance as a head coach at the NCAA Championships in 2002, the program’s first appearance since 1996.  In 2002, Ryden earned Pac-10 Conference Coach of the Year honors as well as South Central Regional Coach of the Year honors, becoming the first head coach in Arizona gymnastics history to have earned Regional Coach of the Year honors. Additionally, Ryden has coached in 16 Pac-10 Championships, 13 NCAA Championships and 16 NCAA Regional meets. Ryden has also trained 12 All-Americans and 18 All-Pac-10 gymnasts in his tenure at Arizona. Recently, Ryden received a contract extension from the school, which runs through the 2010 season.

 

Century Mark: With the Wildcats’ three team victories on March 10, Arizona head coach Bill Ryden picked up his 100th career coaching victory, all of which have come at Arizona. In his eight seasons at the helm, Ryden has amassed a record of 108-118-3 record, and extended the program’s streak of NCAA Regional appearances to 20. Ryden is the program’s second coach to surpass 100 victories. John Gault is the school’s all-time wins leader, with more than 300.

 

The Streak Continues: Arizona qualified for the NCAA North Central Regional Championship, marking the 20th-consecutive year the program has advanced to NCAA regional competition. The club was tabbed as the third seed in the region, behind host Iowa State and second-seeded Arizona State. The Wildcats made a strong push to upset the host Cyclones, but finished 0.325 points behind ISU, missing out on second place and a berth in the NCAA Championships. As a team, Arizona posted a total of 195.4, and in individual events, earned scores of 49.0 on floor, 48.7 on vault, 48.775 on bars and 48.925 on beam. Individually, Karin Wurm and Aubrey Taylor each qualified for nationals. Wurm totaled a 39.300 in the all-around, good enough to share third place. Taylor won a share of the bars tite with a mark of 9.9.

 

Learning Experience: The 2006 National Championships in Corvallis, Ore., served as a great learning experience for both Karin Wurm and Aubrey Taylor. Wurm went four-for-four in her all-around competition scoring a 39.025, to finish tied for 16th-place

Karin Wurm and Aubrey Taylor both competed individually at the NCAA Championships in Corvallis, Ore.

 during Session I. On beam, Wurm earned a 9.800, to finish tied for ninth overall. Her top score came on floor, where she tallied a 9.825 to share 17th-place. Wurm also turned in an impressive bar set, posting a 9.775 to tie for 19th. She began the meet on vault, where she scored a 9.625.

 

During Session II, her teammate Aubrey Taylor turned in a 9.800, good enough to place tied for 17th overall. While neither qualified for the event finals, both gained valuable experience to bring back and use while trying to lead the team to the National Championships in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 2007.

 

Road Rules: The 2006 season was one to remember for the Wildcats, not just for their success in the gym, but for the sights they saw along the way. The club logged five trips over 2,000 miles (round-trip) throughout the year, and started the season on the road for three straight weeks, and five of the first seven. The team traveled significant miles to Cancun, Mexico (3,330 mi.), State College, Pa. (3,838 mi.), and Corv

The Wildcats kicked off 2006 in Cancun, Mexico, at the Cancun Gymnastics Classic.
allis, Ore., (2,168 mi.) twice.  The team also traveled to Tempe, Ariz. (230 mi.), Palo Alto, Calif. (1,466 mi.), and Denton, Texas (1,608  mi.) for somewhat shorter trips.  After the 2,332 mile trek to and from the Hawkeye State for the NCAA North Central Regional Championships, the Wildcats logged 17,140 total miles on the season, or an average of 2,143 miles per road contest.

 

Home Sweet Home: In five homes meets, Arizona posted an impressive 7-1 record in McKale Center. The Wildcats’ lone defeat came against then-No. 2 Florida, a meet in which Arizona posted its season’s best home score (196.300), giving the favored Gators (196.625) a major scare. On the year, Arizona home meets drew an average of 1006 fans per meet, 40 more than 2005’s average of 966. Over the course of the last two seasons, Arizona is a dominant 15-2 in McKale Center.

 

Terrific Trio: Over the course of the season, 152 of Arizona’s 312 (48.7 percent) routines were performed by three gymnasts: Karin Wurm, Aubrey Taylor and Danielle Hicks. In fact, nearly 60 percent of the Wildcats’ points earned came from the three all-arounders. As a team, Arizona scored 2,534.75 points, while Wurm, Taylor and Hicks combined for 1,477.525, or 58.2 percent. Additionally, each captured an all-around title and posted a 39.0 or better at least three times.  Wurm competed as an all-arounder in all 13 meets this season (not counting her individual all-around performance at the NCAA Championships), while Hicks and Taylor each competed in the all-around 11 times.

Three’s a Crowd: It’s not often a school gets three Pac-10 Gymnast of the Week honors in one season, let alone by three different gymnasts. But that’s exactly what the Wildcats did this season as Aubrey Taylor, Jamie Holton and Karin Wurm each received recognition from league office for their performances. Taylor, a junior, earned her award following her second career all-around title, which she collected at Oregon State (Feb. 10), helping the Wildcats to their first victory in Corvallis since 1997. Holton, also a junior, claimed her award for her three-event performance on Feb. 24, in which she set career-highs on beam and floor to help the program to only its third victory ever over UCLA. Wurm, a sophomore, became the latest Wildcat to receive the honor following her career-best performance in the all-around on March 18. Wurm totaled a 39.4 to win the all-around, and also earned at least a share of vault and floor titles. Interestingly, both Taylor and Wurm’s honors came for their efforts in road competitions.

Small Change, Big Difference : Looking to create a spark in the team’s vault lineup, head coach Bill Ryden inserted Jamie Holton into the vault lineup for the first time on the season at Stanford on Feb. 17. The 5-5 junior turned in a then-career high 9.825, but shattered that record two weeks later with a 9.925. In seven vault appearances on the year, Holton never scored below a 9.75, and led the squad with a 9.843 average in the event. After Holton’s emergence into the vault lineup, the Wildcats averaged a team score of 48.925 over the last seven meets. In the previous six meets, the club averaged 48.679 in the event.

Jamie Holton emerged as a key contributor on vault, beam and floor.

 

Nice Company: With her first-place score of 9.925 on the vault on March 3, junior Jamie Holton etched her name in the school’s all-time record book. The mark, which shattered her previous career-high of 9.825 set just two weeks prior, ranks tied for 10th all-time in the event at Arizona.

 

Streak Snapped: On March 3, sophomore Danielle Hicks was held out of the vault lineup for the first time since Feb. 4, 2005, ending her streak of all-around appearances at 14. Hicks again missed out on the all-around the following week on March 10, but did score a 9.825 on floor to help Arizona to its season-high in the event (49.225). Even so, the Oshawa, Ontario, native turned in some impressive performances, earning a score of 9.8 or better on the bars, beam and floor (twice) at least once in the two meets she did not compete as an all-arounder. Hicks went on to compete in the all-around in each of the final three meets, including a season-high 39.25 to close the regular season on March 17. In all, Hicks has competed in the all-around 17 times in her two seasons as a Wildcat.

 

Not So Fast: Two of the Wildcats’ victories came against teams that Arizona has struggled against, historically. The Wildcat’s’ first road win  this season came during a regular season dual-meet in Corvallis, Ore., against the Beavers. Led by Aubrey Taylor’s second all-around title of the season, Arizona knocked off Oregon State in Gil Coliseum, a place they hadn’t won since 1997.

 

The Wildcats also reversed a troubling trend at home against a Top 10 UCLA squad. Karin Wurm placed third in the all-around, and Jamie Holton competed in three events for the second time in her career, earning a 9.925 on vault, to help the Wildcats upset the Bruins. The win was not only the first of the year over a Top 10 team for Arizona, but also only the fourth victory over UCLA in the program’s history.

 

Steady Improvement: The Wildcats got off to a shaky start on the beam in 2006, but turned things around once the youthful lineup got some confidence, despite beginning the year with only two beam workers with prior competitive experience. After posting a season-low 47.350 in the second meet of the year at Penn State and falling out of the national Top 25 in the event, Arizona then climbed all the way up to No. 17 in the event by the end of the year. The Wildcats scored a 48.8 or better in six of the last nine meets, including a 48.925 at the North Central Regional.

 

Instant Impact: The Wildcats called upon five freshmen to play integral roles this season. Alexis Greene was a regular in three events and won four floor titles. Briana Bergeson held a team-best 9.900 on beam and won two titles in the event. Bree Workman anchored the Wildcats’ vault lineup throughout the year, capturing three titles while placing in the Top 5 two other times. Greene competed in three events in all but three meets this season and has won four floor titles to go along with one vault title. Bergeson competed on beam and bars in every meet, and also performed her first-career floor routine at the NCAA Regionals. Suzanne Alvey and Sarah Parsons both competed in the bars lineup, with Parson claiming one Top-5 finish. Alvey also performed once on vault.

 

Star in the Making: Freshman Alexis Greene wasted no time in making a significant impact in the Wildcat lineup. The 5-5 native of Severn, Md., competed in three events in all but three meets on the year and won four floor titles. In all, Greene recorded 14 Top-5 finishes in meets this year (four on vault, four on bars and six on floor). Against UCLA, she matched her career-high on bars with a 9.850 as she tied for second place, and she tied her career-high of 9.875 on floor in the Wildcats’ final home meet of the season.

Briana 'Beamer' Bergeson and Alexis Greene on KLPX radio in Tucson.

 

Beamer on Beam: Freshman Briana Bergeson, known better by her teammates as ?'Beamer,’ quickly became one of the Wildcats’ top scorers on the balance beam. Throughout the year, she scored a 9.8 or better seven times, best on the team. In three consecutive meets, she bested her career-high and placed no lower than second in those meets. At Arizona State, she earned a 9.800 to claim second. Against California, she claimed the individual title with a 9.850. Against Washington, she set a season team-high 9.900 on the beam to claim her second-consecutive beam title.

 

Workman-like Vaulter: Freshman Bree Workman became one of the Wildcats’ top vaulters this season. She ranked second on the team in scoring average until the final meet of the year, behind junior Jamie Holton, and finished with an average of 9.738. Against California, she earned a 9.825, good enough to claim her first-ever vault title. The 5-5 native of Lansing, Mich., set her then-career-high (9.850) at Penn State earlier in the year, and she matched that mark against UCLA. On March 3, she scored a 9.875 against Florida and BYU to share third place, while establishing a then-career-best. She tied that mark in the final home meet of the season as she captured the individual title. In the final regular season meet, she shared the title with Karin Wurm, as she set a new career-high of 9.9 in the event.

 

All or Nothing: When Alexis Greene and Bree Workman were on, they were really on.  Greene recorded six Top 5 finishes on floor, and captured the title in four of those meets. Workman on the other hand, finished in the Top 5 five times on vault, taking home the title three times. Coincidentally, both also seem to have career nights the same night Karin Wurm captures titles. In two of the four meets Greene has won on floor, she has shared the title with Wurm. Likewise, Workman has shared two of her three vault titles with the sophomore all-arounder.

 

Facing the Best: Over the course of the season, Arizona faced 22 nationally-ranked opponents, posting a record of 7-15 against those foes. Only eight teams on the Wildcats’ 2006 slate were unranked at the time of the competition, with Arizona winning the head-to-head competition with each of those clubs.   

 

Stacked Pac: The Pac-10 was once again one of the toughest conferences in 2007, as five of the seven league squads qualified for the postseason. Stanford won the Pac-10 title, but Arizona State was the conference’s highest ranked team in the final polls after placing ninth at the NCAA Championships. Oregon State finished 11th, while the Wildcats came in at No. 13, just shy of advancing

Danielle Hicks, who competed in the all-around 11 times, earned academic All-Pac-10 accolades.
to the NCAA Championships. Stanford finished ranked No. 15, while UCLA placed No. 17. Washington and California were the lone Pac-10 schools not to be ranked in the Top 25 at the end of the year. Washington had begun the year in the preseason coach’s poll as a Top 25 team.

 

Academic Cats: Four Wildcats received praise for their performance in the classroom in addition to their efforts in the gym. Karin Wurm was named Pac-10 First Team All-Academic and also was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District VIII at-large second team for her academic and athletic performances in her two seasons as a Wildcat. Aubrey Taylor, Danielle Hicks and Rachelle Silberg each received honorable mention accolades on the Pac-10 All-Academic team.

 

Future Cats: Last November, head coach Bill Ryden announced the signing of three student-athletes who inked their names to National Letters of Intent to come to Arizona for the 2006-07 academic year. The future Wildcats are Brittney Morgan of Charlottesville, Va., Miranda Russell of Oshkosh, Wisc., and Jamie Custer of La G

Undergraduate Assistant Coach Jessamyn Salter and senior Erin Muirhead leave the program on track for big things in the future.
range Park, Ill.

 

  A Look Ahead: The Wildcats will return 13 of the 14 gymnasts from the 2006 roster in 2007. Aubrey Taylor and Jamie Holton will take over as the senior leaders, while Karin Wurm and Danielle Hicks will also provide upperclass leadership. Last year’s freshmen now have a year of competitive experience under their belts and will be counted on to continue their improvement and make even larger impacts in 2007. While the incoming freshmen class may not be relied upon to provide the immediate impact that was needed this past season, they will help to provide much needed depth across the board.

 

The schedule will once again be a difficult one, but the Pac-10 Championships are up the road in Tempe, Ariz., and should the Wildcats qualify for the postseason for the 21st-consecutive year, they will get to stay at home for the NCAA South Central Regional to be held in the friendly confines of McKale Center. After that, Arizona looks to make its first team appearance at the NCAA Championships since 2002 by advancing to Salt Lake City, Utah.

 

 

The 2006 Arizona Wildcats

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